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Russia-Ukraine war: UN calls for end to school strikes after nearly 100 child deaths in April; EU to consider Ukraine’s membership – as it happened – The Guardian

This live blog is now closed, we will be returning in a few hours to bring you all the latest developments.
Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine during the month of April alone, but actual figures could be significantly higher, the United Nations children’s fund said.

Unicef’s deputy executive director, Omar Abdi, was speaking at the UN’s security council:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}In just this past month, the UN verified that nearly 100 children were killed, and we believe the actual figures to be considerably higher.
The war in Ukraine was creating a “child protection and child rights crisis”, he warned.
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}More children have been injured and faced grave violations of their rights, millions more have been displaced.
Abdi also demanded an end to the bombing of Ukrainian schools, adding that one in six Unicef-supported schools in eastern Ukraine had been “damaged or destroyed” as of last week.
He said:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas.
We will be pausing our live coverage of the war in Ukraine and returning in a few hours to bring you all the latest developments.
In the meantime, here is a comprehensive rundown of where things stand as the time approaches 3am in Kyiv.
The UK government has declined a Commons instruction to release information about the decision to make Evgeny Lebedev a peer, saying this would undermine the confidentiality of those nominated and could degenerate into “political point-scoring”, the Guardian’s political correspondent Peter Walker reports.
Labour called the decision “a cover-up” and promised more action over what it called a contempt of parliament.
The announcement said information had instead been provided to parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC). This prompted an immediate rebuff from the ISC, which said its request for details about Lebedev was separate and should have remained classified.
In March a humble address motion tabled by Labour was passed by the Commons amid a threatened Tory rebellion, directing ministers to release information about the elevation of the Russian-born businessman and son of a former KGB officer.
The vote, in which Tory MPs were instructed to abstain given the extent of backbench Conservative disquiet on the issue, followed revelations that the intelligence services had concerns about a peerage for Lebedev awarded by Boris Johnson, a close friend.
But a Cabinet Office document released on Thursday, running to nine pages, contained no new information beyond a handful of redacted emails, including one in which Lebedev confirmed he had completed a form, and another in which an unidentified official congratulated him on the peerage.
Read on here:
An update from US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin, who says he had a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov:
Today, I had another phone call with my 🇺🇦 counterpart @oleksiireznikov. We discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine, and we coordinated U.S. and intl. security assistance efforts to ensure the Ukrainians have the capabilities they need to keep countering Russia's aggression.
The call came as US plans for a $40bn aid package for Ukraine including money to boost the country’s defences was blocked in the Senate by a single senator, Republican Rand Paul.
AP reports:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed. The bipartisan measure, backed by President Joe Biden, underscores US determination to reinforce its support for Ukraine’s outnumbered forces.
The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. Final passage is not in doubt.
Even so, Paul’s objection was an audacious departure from an overwhelming sentiment in Congress that quickly helping Ukraine was urgent, both for that nation’s prospects of withstanding Vladimir Putin’s brutal attack and for discouraging the Russian president from escalating or widening the war.
It was also a brazen rebellion against his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell began Thursday’s session by saying senators from “both sides” – meaning Republicans and Democrats – needed to “help us pass this urgent funding bill today,” gesturing emphatically as he said “today.”
Paul, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.
He has a long history of demanding last-minute changes by holding up or threatening to delay bills on the brink of passage, including measures dealing with lynching, sanctioning Russia, preventing a federal shutdown, the defense budget, government surveillance and providing health care to the September 11 attack first responders.
Relatives and supporters of the Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Azovstal steel plant demonstrated in Kyiv on Thursday, pleading for them to be rescued, Reuters reports.
Russian forces have been bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city now almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
Many of the civilians holed up at the plant have been evacuated but no deal has been reached with Moscow on allowing out hundreds of fighters, some of whom are wounded.
Demonstrators, mostly women, marched through central Kyiv, holding banners and chanting, “Save defenders of Mariupol, save Azovstal,” “Glory to the heroes of Mariupol,” and, “Save the military of Azovstal.”
Maria Zimareva, whose relative is among the Azov battalion fighters, said tearfully:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}I want all the defenders who are there to return home so that they can continue a normal life with their children and relatives.
People holed up in the steelworks were dying of wounds that could normally be treated, said Tetiana Pogorlova:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Nobody attempts to save them. There is nothing we can do except for gathering at such demonstrations and making demands on our authorities.
Mariupol resident Alina Nesterenko was also at the demonstration in the capital:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The conditions they are in are horrible. I have no words to describe them. That’s why we are here. We are begging, we are pleading in every possible way, we are asking for our loved ones to be saved.
This is Helen Livingstone taking over the Guardian’s live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.
A court in Kyiv will hear the first war crime trial since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine when a Russian soldier accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian appears in the dock on Friday, the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey reports.
The watershed moment comes as the number of crimes registered by Ukraine’s general prosecutor surpassed 11,000 and Unicef reported that at least 100 children had been killed in the war in April alone.
The defendant who will appear at Kyiv’s district court is Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody.
It is alleged Shysimarin, a sergeant, had been fighting in the Sumy region in north-east Ukraine when he killed a civilian on 28 February in the village of Chupakhivka.
He is accused of shooting at a civilian car after his convoy of military vehicles had come under attack from Ukrainian forces. He then drove the car away with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters.
Shysimarin shot dead the unarmed man, who was on a bicycle and talking on his phone, after being ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.
Read on here:
It’s 6 pm ET here in New York. I’ll be handing the blog over to my colleagues in Australia.

Here’s what happened so far:

More than 1,100 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Wales under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, according to the BBC. Under the sponsorship scheme, 37,500 visas have been issued across the UK.

For those visas issued for refugees to go to England, 49% have arrived, 28% of those planning to go to Scotland arrived and 16% have arrived in Northern Ireland.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Russia has destroyed 570 health care facilities and 101 hospitals, according to the New York Times. The remarks came during his nightly address to the nation. He also said some schools were struck on Thursday in northern Ukraine.

Earlier today, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to investigate Russia’s human rights abuses in Ukraine in a 33-2 vote.
US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has blocked the passage of a $40bn aid bill to Ukraine. Paul demanded changes to the legislation that would include implementing a special inspector general to oversee how the aid is spent, according to CNN.
“We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the US economy,” Paul said.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell offered to allow a vote on the Republican senator’s amendment. But CNN is reporting that Paul insisted that it be added to the actual bill.

“The package is ready to go,” Schumer said. “The vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it. There’s now only one thing holding us back the junior senator from Kentucky is preventing swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill. His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties.”

Michael Carpenter, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that “at least several thousand Ukrainians” have been sent to so-called “filtration centers” in Russia, according to a transcript of his remarks to the OSCE Permanent Council.
“During this so-called ‘filtration’ process, Russia’s forces reportedly process and interrogate detained Ukrainian citizens to identify anyone with ties to the Ukrainian government or military, as well as individuals with ‘pro-Ukraine’ convictions,” Carpenter’s remarks reads.
Carpenter went onto say that residents of Mariupol were reportedly evicted from shelters and forced onto buses to these “filtration camps” without telling them where they were going.
“Numerous eyewitness accounts indicate that ‘filtering out’ entails beating and torturing individuals to determine whether they owe even the slightest allegiance to the Ukrainian state,” his remarks continue.

More from his transcript:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}According to these reports, those who are judged to have such an allegiance are transferred to the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic,” where they face a dark fate.
According to one survivor, “If a person was suspected of being a ‘Ukrainian Nazi’, they took them to Donetsk for further investigation or murder…. Everybody was afraid to be taken to Donetsk.” Another survivor recounted a conversation she overheard between two Russian soldiers as she and her family were undergoing “filtration” outside of Mariupol. “What did you do with people who didn’t pass the filtration?” one soldier asked. The response: “Shot 10 and stopped counting.”
Authorities in Spain have identified houses, companies and one luxury yacht belonging to Russian oligarchs who are on the sanctions list, Reuters is reporting. In the weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mariano García Fresno, the head of the General Council of Notaries’ money laundering prevention unit said the group noticed increased activity as oligarchs attempted to transfer ownership and stakes of businesses to relatives or associates.
More context from Reuters:

.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}This week, the European Commission, the EU executive, said it would introduce a legislative proposal to prosecute those who attempted to evade sanctions, for instance by transferring their assets to family members.
After reviewing more than 1,000 names among millions of transactions registered with Spain’s public notaries since 2004, García Fresno’s unit established that sanctioned oligarchs had stakes in at least 10 Spanish companies and 13 foreign ones.
The information was handed over to the country’s financial intelligence unit and the Treasury and, in late April, the government confirmed it had frozen 12 funds and bank accounts linked to five people on the sanctions list, along with three luxury yachts and 23 properties.
Some interesting analysis from Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at the Center for Naval Analyses in Washington DC, on Russia’s mobilization problem in its invasion of Ukraine.
Kofman argues that Russia is currently “operating at peacetime strength”.
However, without declaring a state of war, or conducting partial mobilization the force is still operating at peacetime strength. Below is one estimate of how a hypothetical brigade with 3,500 personnel may have only a fraction actually available for deployment. 5/ pic.twitter.com/NnMmAd3tcZ
He notes that Vladimir Putin seems hesitant to declare a state of war. Currently, Putin has designated the invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation”.
All in all, I don't see general mobilization as technically feasible or likely, hence I suggested this would not be declared on May 9th. A combination of halfway measures won't dramatically change Russian fortunes either, but they could significantly extend the war. 23/
As it stands, Russian options are shrinking. The more they drag their feet the further their ability to sustain the war deteriorates, and the worse their subsequent options.
Reuters is reporting that Ukrainian forces have set on fire a Russian ship in the Black Sea:
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine said on Thursday.
Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details. The tiny island is located near Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.
Video footage shows the Azov fighters in Mariupol engaging in a counter-attack at the steel plant where hundreds of soldiers and civilians have been under siege.
The Battle of Azovstal.
Historic footage. pic.twitter.com/Kz3XhWCNE8
Graffiti shows signs of Ukrainian resistance in Russian-occupied Kherson.
#Ukrainian resistance in the Russian occupied city of Kherson (Херсон) – southern #Ukraine. https://t.co/JNxDTfvzSv pic.twitter.com/5DS0cnHuai
This is Lauren Aratani taking over for Léonie Chao-Fong.
Despite sanctions and boycotts against Russia’s oil exports, the country’s oil revenues are up 50% this year, according to Bloomberg, citing a report from the International Energy Agency.
In 2022, Russia earned about $20bn per month in 2022 from oil sales. The revenue stream represents exports of about 8m barrels a day, according to the agency.
The EU – despite its stance against the invasion – has taken in about 43% of the country’s oil exports.
Russia’s supplies were down by 1m barrels a day last month, meaning that the country could soon see an economic impact from the sanctions and boycotts.

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